I recognize that as a Christian woman speaking and writing about sex, I need to be clear about what I believe.

I love authentic dialogue, and I respect that other people, even other Christians, may hold different beliefs than I do. I am comfortable with that. We can be compassionate and respectful with each other and, at the same time, stand firm in what we believe.

I am secure and enthusiastic about holding to these beliefs:

I believe Jesus Christ came so that we may have life and have it to the full.

He died on the cross for our sins. No one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ.  When we acknowledge Him as the One True Lord and Savior and repent and ask for forgiveness for our sins, we are indeed forgiven and have eternal life. This gift of salvation is available to everyone who confesses their sins and asks Jesus Christ to be their Savior. I also believe babies, very young children and/or anyone else incapable of consciously professing faith in Christ also will be welcomed into the arms of the Savior.

With regard to marriage, faith in Christ does not instantly make marriage easy, but faith certainly does better equip us to journey marriage, appreciate its goodness, and navigate its challenges.

God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman.

I believe God designed marriage on earth to be a covenant relationship between a man and a woman. I do not believe in any version of marriage that says it is okay for spouses to have sex of any sort with people other than their spouse or to invite other people into the exclusivity of their intimacy.

This means no third parties are involved in your sexual intimacy (no inclusion of other people, no viewing of elicit materials such as pornography, and no fantasizing about people other than your spouse). Marriage is sacred and should be treated as such.

There is growing conversation about a man and woman not needing vows of commitment to proclaim they are indeed “married.” Sometimes this is called covenant relationship, but without the actual ceremony or public declaration. I fall in the camp, though, that I believe the ceremony and public declaration ARE necessary. We can’t just say we are married. We need to make a declaration, whether that be before a judge, priest, pastor or someone else qualified to oversee a marriage ceremony. This is not about having a big wedding. Whether a man and woman make the declaration with a few witnesses present or before a 1,000 people, what is important is that they are publicly and legally declaring their union.

Sex is not “optional” for married couples.

I take to heart 1 Corinthians 7, which clearly says a husband and a wife are not to withhold their bodies from each other.  I recognize there are instances of illness or injury that make it difficult or impossible to make love. These are the rare exceptions (and even in many of these exceptions, close physical contact is still possible and should be nurtured).

I also recognize that when there has been a betrayal (physical or emotional adultery, pornography use, participation in other inappropriate sexual activity, etc.), it is not unusual for a married couple to have to rebuild sexual trust. This can take time and may include abstaining from sex while that trust is being rebuilt. If a husband and wife are committed to healing their marriage, though, at some point sexual reunification has to be part of that healing process.

For most marriages, couples should be having sex on a somewhat consistent basis. I’m not going to put a number on what “consistent” means, but certainly consistent enough that both a husband and wife know within their hearts and before the Lord that He is pleased with the ways the marriage is being sexually nurtured. A married couple must learn to compromise so that their sexual desires and needs are being enjoyed, and at the same time, they are walking in grace and compassion.

I am not naïve about how challenging sex can be in a marriage. Relationship dynamics, time constraints, stress, and a number of other factors can and will take a toll on a married couple’s ability to make sex vital in their relationship. But sexual intentionality has a profound positive effect, not only on the relationship as a whole, but also in how we navigate the ups and downs of life.

God designed our sexual organs and orgasm.

Kudos to you, God!  Definitely one of your shining moments. Sexual pleasure within marriage was His idea. He himself said that what He has created is good. I believe both a husband and a wife should feel free to initiate sex, nurture sex and fully enjoy sex with their spouse. They each have responsibility in understanding their own bodies and each other’s bodies and communicating what feels pleasurable.

Sex is not only for making babies. Most sexual encounters in a marriage are not about making a baby. Sex is also for having fun, boosting our individual wellbeing, and strengthening oneness between a husband and a wife. Sex offers profound, mysterious, passionate, pleasurable and tender ways for a husband and wife to connect.

The “one flesh” dynamic is unique to the marriage covenant.

One flesh is about so much more than sex. It is about emotional, spiritual and physical connectedness. I believe the implications of sexual intimacy beyond the physical aspects are one of the reasons God wants sex to be kept within marriage. To say there is a lot at stake is an understatement.

When things get treacherous in marriage (notice I say when, not if), I wholeheartedly believe married couples should seek resources to help them journey, strengthen and, in some cases, heal their marriage.

I’m not in the camp of “going at it alone” when it comes to solving problems in such an important relationship as the covenant of marriage. There are many, many Christian resources available, whether they be counseling, books, websites, intensive retreats, conferences, etc.  Isolation in our pain and confusion sucks.  God is all about shedding light and inviting us to walk in it.

So, there you have it.  A quick synopsis of what I believe!